Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

From the moment the White House released its partial transcript of President Trump's Ukraine call, a huge unknown was: What was said during the ellipses?

The state of play: Multiple national security officials, and current and former administration officials, have told Axios that they're concerned about the gaps.

  • Did some officials know what the fuller passages were, and were they instructed to leave those details out? That would mean a fuller record exists.
  • Or was the conversation going too fast, and the passages were lost?
  • Or was there disagreement over what was said? 

Driving the news: The National Security Council's top Ukraine expert testified Tuesday that the White House memo of President Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "omitted crucial words and phrases," the New York Times reports.

  • Trump has pointed to the memorandum as proof that Democrats' impeachment inquiry against him — spurred by his call with Zelensky — is a "con job." Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's testimony did not mention the motive of the White House in omitting key references to the Bidens and Burisma Holdings by Trump and Zelensky.
  • Vindman, a decorated Iraq War veteran, is the first official from the White House who listened to the phone call between the two leaders to testify.

Details: Vindman said he was unable to correct the memorandum for leaving out "Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption" and "an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president ... of Burisma Holdings, the energy company whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter," per the Times.

  • Vindman testified that the memo's third set of ellipses actually corresponds with Trump saying there were recordings of Biden.
  • He said "some of his edits appeared to have been successful," aside from the two involving Burisma — which Hunter Biden served on the board of in 2014 — and the former vice president.

Background: Trump pressed Ukraine's president to investigate his potential 2020 presidential election rival Biden during their July 25 call. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani encouraged Ukraine's government to investigate Biden's son for months before the call.

Go deeper: White House Ukraine expert to testify on Trump call concerns

Go deeper

A court fight for the ages

The flag flies at half-staff as people mourn on the Supreme Court steps last night. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Ruth Bader Ginsburg — feminist icon, legal giant, toast of pop culture — left this statement with granddaughter Clara Spera as cancer closed in: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

The big picture: For all that the nation owes "Notorious RBG" — the hip-hop-inspired nickname she enjoyed and embraced — Republicans are planning to do their best to be sure her robe is quickly filled, despite that last wish, with her ideological polar opposite.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:15 a.m. ET: 30,539,903 — Total deaths: 952,629— Total recoveries: 20,800,482Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:15 a.m. ET: 6,726,353 — Total deaths: 198,603 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19 — Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
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The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As the coronavirus pandemic drags into its seventh month, it remains an open debate whether the U.S. should aim for the elimination of COVID-19 — and whether we even can at this point.

Why it matters: This is the question underlying all of the political and medical battles over COVID-19. As both the direct effects of the pandemic and the indirect burden of the response continue to add up, we risk ending up with the worst of both worlds if we fail to commit to a course.